Texas sues US, relief agency, to block Syrian refugees

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Texan Syrian Relief Agency Will Defy The State

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec 2 (Reuters) - A Texas state agency sued the U.S. State Department, a relief agency and others in federal court on Wednesday seeking to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state, where a relief agency plans to bring Syrians within a week.

The International Rescue Committee is set to relocate two Syrian refugee families to Texas in the coming days despite a threat from state officials that such a move would be reckless and would be met with a cut in funding for the agency.

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The Texas Health and Human Services Commission sued, asking the U.S. District Court in Dallas for an immediate restraining order and a hearing by Dec. 9 for an injunction that would prevent resettlement. It is also asking refugees not to be resettled until then.

The suit names U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. State Department and others as defendants. Texas is seeking an injunction to halt the resettlement because the state contends the defendants are violating their "statutory duty to consult with the State in advance of placing refugees in Texas."

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After the Paris attacks in November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, was one of the first of more than 30 U.S. governors seeking to block the resettlement of Syrians into their states.

Abbott has said he was concerned that U.S. security screening is ineffective and could allow people with ties to terrorism to be admitted. U.S. officials have described the vetting process for Syrian refugees as long and extensive. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)

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